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Legendary Producer Jon Landau Passes at 63

The Oscar-winning producer of  the hugely successful 'Titanic' and the 'Avatar' film franchise and longtime producing partner to James Cameron at Lightstorm Entertainment passed away on Friday after a battle with cancer. 

Jon Landau, the Oscar-winning producer of Titanic and the Avatar film franchise, passed away on Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 63.

The longtime producing partner of James Cameron at Lightstorm Entertainment, Landau was also heavily involved in the three upcoming Avatar sequel productions. 

Before partnering with Cameron, Landau served as the executive vice president of feature film production at 20th Century Fox, overseeing such films as Die Hard 2, Power Rangers, and The Last of the Mohicans. Landau first worked with Cameron on 1994’s True Lies, and when he left Fox, Landau boarded Cameron’s project Planet Ice, which would eventually become 1997’s mammoth hit, Titanic.

In addition to serving as COO at Lightstorm, Landau also spearheaded other ancillary projects, such as Dark Horse Comics and Penguin Random House’s various Avatar print spinoffs, as well as the Ubisoft game Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora and the online multiplayer role-playing game Avatar: Reckoning.

Back at FMX 2014, AWN’s Dan Sarto interviewed Landau, who talked at length about the three upcoming Avatar sequel productions and the uncertain economics of VFX production, as well as the evolution of High Frame Rate filmmaking and other production technologies. He also shared his insights about how an over-reliance on film production technologies can potentially disrupt the creative process.

Speaking about the long and exacting development on the Avatar sequels, Landau notes, “When we look at our movies, on each one we want a new challenge. But we want to keep in mind the basic principles of why movies work. Movies work because of the characters that we put up on the screen. And I tell people that movies aren't about the world, [or] the environments. They’re about the close-ups.”

In a 2022 interview with The Talks, Landau said of his career in Hollywood, “I could never just sit at a desk and sign off on anything. Not just as a producer, but in life. I want to participate, I want to have a voice, I want to have an influence. I want to be able to inspire people to go beyond what they think their own capabilities are, for them to feel pride in what we’re doing. I think that’s a very big thing. I never want to be that guy just at a desk anywhere in life.”

Landau is survived by his wife Julie, their sons Jamie and Jodie, and his siblings Tina, Kathy, and Les Landau.

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Journalist, antique shop owner, aspiring gemologist—Laurén brings a diverse perspective to animation, where every frame reflects her varied passions.